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Turning Your Characters Gay

Gay Sculpture

Have you ever had a story that you wrote, oh, I dunno, ages ago, with a straight protagonist, that you’ve decided to turn gay? You know, one of those in the back of your filing cabinet that you dusted off and decided to give a fresh new take?

I’ve got a novel I wrote 15 years ago – that I’m considering overhauling – including making the primary relationship a gay romance instead of a man and a woman.

I’m a bit conflicted about it for two reasons:

1) I like my characters. I tend to kinda fall in love with the folks I write, and changing the main female lead would make her a wholly different person.

2) Do I wanna be only a gay author? It’s funny, but you never hear this from straight folks. Nevertheless, do I want all of my Sci Fi to be explicitly gay oriented, as opposed to having a mix of characters, some of whom are gay?

I’m not ready to jump into this project just yet, so I have some time.

What do y’all think?

1 thought on “Turning Your Characters Gay”

  1. Some years ago, I turned a gay story straight. A guy became a woman. It took 7 month of rewrites and beta-edits. My husband claimed he won’t read my stuff because it’s gay and explicit (he’s all in favor of equal rights, but he’s private that way and doesn’t want to read about the messy details.) I rewrote the damn book, and it was better for the extra work, and I learned TONS AND TONS about how men and women act. Turning Wyatt into Susan meant other male characters didn’t feel comfortable swearing around her. It meant her fight scenes had to be restructured, so that she looked like a guy before she got pistol-whipped, and the guy who hit her felt like shit afterward. The learning curve was glorious – but I’m never doing it again. First of all, my husband still didn’t read it – it’s explicit, and he doesn’t feel comfortable reading sex scenes. It turned out not to be a “gay” thing as much as a “TMI” thing. Second, it’s easier to just redraft it from scratch. Changing genders, pronouns, personal descriptions… gah. What a PAIN! It tool longer than writing an entirely new book. Lesson learned.

    Seriously. If you have a book you’re not crazy about but that doesn’t suck, and want to write it “straight,” go ahead, but think about what would make it better first, and THEN sit at your blank screen, and let it rip. If it changes on you, well, OK. Let those characters show you what they have.

    I don’t want to be “just an m/m author” either. I’m working on thrillers with some UST, but the action is more about violence than about relationships.

    Try it, see what happens. Then you’ll know.

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